Laser skin resurfacing offers the promise of youth.
As we age, our skin loses collagen and doctors have a weapon to battle this. Using a CO2 laser, skin can be smoothed out, eliminating wrinkles and scars and reducing splotchiness. It also can stimulate the formation of collagen beneath the skin.
The newest generations of CO2 lasers vaporize aged, damaged skin one layer at a time which is replaced by new skin. They offer hope to people concerned with:
There are two basic types of lasers used for cosmetic purposes: ablative and nonablative. Ablative lasers actually vaporize the top layers of damaged skin, while non-ablative lasers work deeper in the skin without removing or otherwise damaging the top layers. For this reason, there is no real patient downtime associated with cosmetic procedures that employ solely nonablative laser technology.
The two basic types of lasers can be further broken down into many subcategories of laser types and into literally hundreds of variations and brand names which fit into these subclassifications.
The main differences between the types of lasers have to do with wavelength. In other words, different laser wavelengths (colors of light) target different skin issues. Therefore, a variety of lasers are needed to treat a variety of skin concerns. For this reason, a combination of several different lasers may be recommended by your surgeon to address all of the problems that you may have. An explanation of the differences between these different laser types could get very lengthy, technical and rather confusing, so we will focus here on what types of cosmetic issues are best treated by the various laser types.
For treating lines and wrinkles, a combination of skin surfacing and skin-tightening procedures can be used or both can be accomplished with a more aggressive ablative laser, such as a CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser or Erbium YAG. The CO2 laser is also commonly used for the removal of warts and skin tags and for cutting skin in laser-assisted surgery.
Most cosmetic laser procedures provide at least some level of superficial tightening because they produce a controlled injury of the skin, which encourages increased collagen production. For more significant tightening results, however, CO2 lasers are the laser of choice. In addition, there has been much success using nonlaser, light-based treatments, such as Titan infrared devices and Thermage radio-frequency based systems.
For deeper acne scars the CO2 laser remains the gold standard, although more recent developments such as the erbium:YAG, fractional laser and certain nonablative lasers have shown considerable success with superficial acne scarring. For the treatment of active acne, LED technology has proven to be quite effective.